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Hawks strive for positive gains on mat
• CV boys wrestling leader Rob Beckhart expects improvement
Joey Zuniga and Angel Melgoza
Central Valley’s boys wrestling program returns a host of talent from last year’s team, including Joey Zuniga and Angel Melgoza. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

Central Valley High School’s boys wrestling program will face an uphill battle this winter.

“We’re really young,” Hawks’ head coach Rob Beckhart said. “I like the kids that we have. They work hard. They’re going to get better as the season goes on.”

Central Valley has a 51-person roster.

The Hawks return 17 grapplers from 2021-22, including David Contreras (Sr.), Jonathan Macias (Sr.), Austin Melman (Sr.), Samuel Deleon (Jr.), Albert Gonzales (Jr.), Elijah Lee (Jr.), Julian Lugo (Jr.), Kenneth Orrin (Jr.), Maximo Pacheco (Jr.), Makhai Smith (Jr.), Elijah Avina (So.), Kyle Crum (So.), Julian Gonzalez (So.), Logan Krauss (So.), Isaac Lee (So.), Angel Melgoza (So.) and Joey Zuniga (Jr.).

The Hawks have 34 newcomers: Trey Anderson (Sr.), Vincent Lopez (Sr.), Kevin Garcia, (Jr.), Daniel Jimenez (Jr.), Leonardo Monroy (Jr.), Damian Tapia (Jr.), Matthew Torres Pichado (Jr.), Jose Avila (So.), Navdeep Bhullian (So.), Rogelio Contreras (So.), Anthony Diaz (So.), Humberto Diaz (So.), Phillip Esparza (So.), Manjot Gill (So.), Gabriel Hernandez (So.), Edward Rendon (So.), Abraham Rodarte (So.), Omar Morales Villa (So.), Juan Alfonso (Fr.), Salvador Almazan (Fr.), David Alvarado (Fr.), Caleb Beckhart (Fr.), Emiliano Castillo (Fr.), Nicolas Deleon (Fr.), Kevin Gomez (Fr.), Noah Lopez (Fr.), Jayden Mattox (Fr.), Emiliano Mendoza (Fr.), Rafael Mendoza (Fr.), Isaiah Shirley (Fr.), Diego Torres (Fr.), Victor Vaca Jr. (Fr.), Hector Valencia (Fr.) and Sean Vernon (Fr.).

“For a lot of these kids, they’re brand new to it (wrestling),” coach Beckhart said. “The whole focus is to get better each week. I don’t care about wins and losses. I just want us to be competitive.”

Zuniga took fourth at the Central California Conference Championships, ninth at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-III Tournament and was an alternate for Masters in the 122-pound weight class this past season.

Smith took fourth at the CCC finals and placed 10th at Divisionals at 285 pounds.

Melgoza took fifth at the league tournament on his way to earning an individual berth to Divisionals at 154 pounds.

Contreras took fifth at the conference finals and secured a berth to Divisionals at 108 pounds.

“They want to win,” Rob Beckhart said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Central Valley will compete against Atwater, Buhach Colony, Merced, Golden Valley, El Capitan and Patterson during the CCC dual season.

The Hawks will host the conference finals on Feb. 4.

“The CCC has been around forever,” coach Beckhart said. “It’s a tough league. We’re going to have a learning curve this year. We’ll take our lumps. But we’re not going to lay down. We’re going to fight hard.”

Central Valley finished fourth overall at the league championships a year ago.

The Hawks totaled 148 points while finishing ahead of Buhach Colony (156), El Capitan (98), Patterson (85) and Atwater (77).

Golden Valley (244), Merced (233) and El Capitan (98) took first, second and third, respectively.

Ten of Central Valley’s 14 wrestlers advanced to Divisionals.

The Hawks enjoyed their best season to date in 2016-17 by finishing first at the Division-IV Tournament and Team Dual championships. Central Valley also claimed its second straight Western Athletic Conference overall title.

Beckhart is excited about the future.

“If the kids work hard and buy into the system, they’ll get better,” he said.

Beckhart will complete his 12th year as head coach of the Hawks this winter.

“It’s never what I intended to do,” Central Valley’s longtime leader said. “I helped out and it just happened. I just want to see the kids be successful. We’ve struggled lately. I’d like to see us turn things around. That’s what drives me.”